How do you Home School? 10 tips to get you through.
In light of the Coronavirus global pandemic, I have been asked several times about how we manage to home school our kids. While this isn’t really affecting families that already home school their children, hundreds of thousands of families all over the United States, Canada, and probably all over the world will be trying to navigate this new education option at least for a few weeks. Our kids have attended a small charter school that shares space with other families. Our kids are typically on campus three days a week and we home school the other two days. My first piece of advice as someone who has been homeschooling for a while is to stay calm and manage your expectations. When extremes happen in your life where you need to be a home educator, keep the big picture in mind. If you are quarantining because your child is facing an illness or if the whole country is on lock down, remember that you just need to do your best and that it isn’t the only issue at hand. Kids are smart and resilient and you aren’t going to ruin them with your subpar teaching skills. In the overwhelming amount of cases, your child’s homeschooling time will be brief in comparison to their overall education, just do what you can do; we’ve got some tips below to help.
Tips for Home School with Kids Temporarily
1. Designate a school place. If possible, designate an area in the house for home school. I do not suggest letting most kids do their schooling in their room. I suggest finding a place as clear of distractions as possible to help children and tribute teacher focus.
2. Designate a school time. Try to keep school start time close to what they are used to. Some may want to take the license to sleep in, but in my experience it is best to start at about the same time their school starts. We’ve noticed that our kids tend to get their school work done more efficiently at home. When our kids start school at the same time as campus, we find that they are done earlier than normal on campus days. We celebrate being done early with extra computer time, Disney+ time or a fun outing. Obviously, a fun outing may be out of the question for now, but you get the picture.
3. Reach out to the school and their teachers for resources. Most schools will be able to give you a curriculum to follow. While many home schoolers need to come up with their own curriculum, if you are quarantined but remain enrolled in the school there should be a lesson plan to follow. In this case, think of your home school days as basically ‘glorified homework’, this makes it easier for us.
4. When in doubt, YouTube can help. YouTube is a huge time suck with a lot of garbage; but it is also a wealth of information. In all honesty, I have been using YouTube to help learn math lessons myself for the past two years. My middle schoolers are now at the age where I was when math started getting really challenging. Looking back, I think undiagnosed ADHD and anxiety lead to a lot of my math challenges starting in about 6th grade. I needed a lot of help then and didn’t retain what I needed to be a strong teacher for my kids. Enter my friends at YouTube. YouTube can help your kids with everything. Tutorials in Math, History, Spelling, Grammar, Music, and more can be found on YouTube.
5. If you have several kids, enlist the older ones to help at least a little with the youngest. We pay our middle schoolers $5 to help our youngest with a subject. Our big kids like to make a little money and our youngest enjoys a different teacher. Our big kids have no problem navigating the third grader’s math lesson or history lesson and it takes some of the pressure off of my husband and myself. I know all family dynamics are different and we can’t automatically assume our big kids can take on this responsibility, but in many cases this is a great lesson for all involved.
6. If you want to avoid going out, remember that the Libby App is a FREE app that is connected to your local library. Our kids have enjoyed regular books and audio books on their Kindles. Kindle Unlimited is free for 30 days and the kids have learned a lot and had a lot of fun. These resources are some of our most used and will be very helpful if you are abruptly thrust into home schooling.
7. Add in lessons that might be fun. Pixar in a Box is an awesome learning experience costumed as fun. You can take a FREE Class online from Yale University! We like cooking together, learning piano from Hoffman Academy (free online!) or learning how to edit videos for their YouTube channel on home school days. My oldest is especially motivated to finish up early if she knows she will have time to bake after her lessons are done.
8. Manage your expectations for yourself and your child. These are weird times and everyone is fumbling. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your kid.
9. Normally I would suggest sharing schooling responsibilities with others, but in the age of Coronavirus, getting together with friends seems like an irresponsible suggestion. That said, share tips with other friends that are in the same boat that you are. Get on your school’s Facebook page or an online community group and share what is working and what isn’t.
10. Establish a reward system for small wins. Our kids are earning extra screen time and cold hard cash (small amounts, we aren’t rolling in money) for having a successful day. If you aren’t here for rewarding kids for school, that’s fine. I’m not here for my kid’s world going bananas, but here we are, so we are going a little soft.
I really hope that these tips above can help our friends who found out literally a day ago that for the unforeseen future they are a home schooling family. My main suggestion is to just keep your perspective in check. I am admittedly the worst at missing the forest for the trees so I am mainly speaking to myself here. Kids are resilient and these are unprecedented times. When we get through this; and we will, they will go back to school and make up deficits quickly. The main goal should be to keep our kids safe, healthy, and feeling secure that this too shall pass.
Want more fun Homeschooling content from pros? Here are some great articles from homeschooling moms all over the US. We got you. It is going to be OK! Thank you to every home educator who was kind enough to share with us.